Farmers, inventors and agri-businesses have been told to protect their intellectual property (IP) by registering trademarks, products and innovative processes with the relevant authorities to protect them from being used by competitors.

Marie Walsh, European patent attorney and trademark attorney, explains that IP is an umbrella term used to refer to rights including patents, trademarks, designs, copyright and trade secrets.

“Regardless of what your agribusiness is, it is highly likely that one or more of the main IP rights will be applicable. For instance, almost every agribusiness will have a trade name or brand name that can be protected by registered trademark,” said Walsh, who is also director of HGF intellectual property specialists.

“Have you created a new product or technical process? Or modified an existing product in a way that results in surprising technical advantages?

“If so, your product or process may be protected by patent protection. Design registrations can be obtained for any visual aspect of a product that is original, such as original pattern or ornament or shape.

“For example, a new package shape for a yoghurt or other food product,” she said.

Furthermore, financial aid is available from Enterprise Ireland to help businesses plan IP strategy and consult experts on their plans. While it may sound daunting, if it is not focused on, Walsh said that agribusinesses could lose much of the value created from an innovation.

Explainers at Ploughing 2022

Walsh will be delivering a talk explaining how businesses in the farming sector can navigate IP rules to safeguard their products and services at the Enterprise Ireland innovation arena at the National Ploughing Championships.

Walsh said all agri-businesses are likely to have created some IP when conducting their activities and that IP registration is applicable even down to the level of a business’s name.